COVID FAMILIES POUR LOVED ONE'S ASHES ON SENATE STEPS, DEMAND PASSAGE OF INTERNATIONAL PANDEMIC PREVENTION AND COVID RESPONSE ACT

[WASHINGTON, CD] Four activists from Right to Health Action were arrested on November 16, 2021 by capitol police for spreading the ashes of loved ones killed by COVID-19.

50 activists from around the country gathered in Upper Senate Park to protest the lack of action by Congress around COVID-19, global vaccine equity, and pandemic preparedness.

Drawing inspiration from legendary HIV/AIDS activist organization ACT UP’s 1992 and 1996 protests, activists spread the ashes of their loved ones in a political funeral on the steps of a Congressional office building. Some of the activists who participated then, were present again today to stand up for action to combat this new pandemic, as well as current members of ACT UP Philadelphia.

Erika Mckibben from McDonough, GA shared the story of her father being murdered by COVID-19 and expressed her anger for the complacency of our government leaders. She cried, “Every day that Congress waits to pass critical legislation to end the COVID-19 pandemic means more lives will be lost.”

The bipartisan bill (S.2297), led by Senators Risch (R-ID) and Menendez (D-NJ), has already passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is currently being offered as an amendment to the annual “must-pass” National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). S.2297 will mandate the Biden Administration to vaccinate 70% of the world by September 2022, invest in health system strengthening in low-income countries, and establish a new global fund for pandemic prevention. A version of the bill already passed the House this year, once as a stand alone bill with unanimous Democrat support and 99 Republican cosponsors, and again as an amendment to the House NDAA. 

“COVID-19 should never have happened,” said McKibben. “Five million lives lost worldwide represents five million policy failures. We need the Senate to do its part now by passing S.2297 as part of the NDAA, to protect families everywhere from COVID-19 and make sure this tragedy never happens again.”